“We are made of star stuff” Stellar Nucleosynthesis

Geology 6-9, Chemistry 9-12

The Stellar Nucleosynthesis lesson has been one of the most significant lessons the children have had in chemistry. After studying about atoms, the elements, and the solar system, the Stellar Nucleosynthesis lesson, along with the birth of a star lesson, were necessary to explain the origin of all other elements.

Atomic fusion

The children already had knowledge on the effect of heat and pressure on rocks from studying the rock cycle. They had learned that elements are what makes matter. But learning about the origin and the making of new elements had the children feel very special about the sun, and about themselves. They suddenly understood the famous quote “we are made of star stuff” from Carl Sagan.

Quite frankly, I don’t know how I would have taught this star “stuff” without this amazing layout (handmade material).

The materials used to create the lesson were based on the Research & Development Montessori lesson. The supply you would need are:

This is a great way to demonstrate to children how elements fuse together to create new elements. But what happens after a supernova is what amazed the children the most. It explained the apparition of a Borealis Aurora, the layout of the Periodic table of the elements, the atomic mass of an element, and much more probably.

Since it takes a supernova to explain the genesis of heavier atoms, I introduced, in parallel, the birth of a star depicting the life cycle of a star. This set is from The Learning Ark, and provides interesting information, as well as pictures of the periodic table where the children can visualize the elements on a periodic table as they progress their the stages (see picture above).

Finally, a book is always a great way to explore and research more about the topic. I found the Space Britannica books, which comes with a electronic pen with which children can assess their own knowledge.

You can find amazing videos on YouTube that retraced the beginning of the universe using the atomic fusion. This lesson had earned the universe the greatest respect (as if it didn’t deserve it already).

2 replies to ““We are made of star stuff” Stellar Nucleosynthesis

    1. Dear Kim,

      Thank you! I followed the instructions from Montessori Research and Development manual (geology). Luckily for you, this specific lesson with the measurements is available online through Alison’s Montessori. I’ll paste the link here, have fun!

      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.alisonsmontessori.com/v/manuals/me.ge01-2.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwj8qMCg8qPrAhWLlXIEHc4xDeUQFjABegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw3nnVHB8bPGpwzAKAvE7lh8&cshid=1597724305194

      Like

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